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Keeping calm and focused from December 2017 GLD Challenge Magazine

February 27, 2018 11:24 PM

Keeping calm and focused

Challenge December 2017 front cover (greenlibdems.org.uk)

At moments of upheaval it is not unusual for almost everything to be drowned out by an overwhelming focus on whatever major event is taking place.

So, for example, in the US, and around the world, the media can become obsessed with Donald Trump to the exclusion of everything else. Everything becomes filtered through the lens of the latest outrage, faux pas, or insult. Similarly, here in the UK our entire future is being squeezed through the bottleneck that is Brexit. The risk is that in the understandable desire to have our voices heard we can end up reduced to little more than shouting the same words as everyone else. One side shouting Brexit good, Brexit good, and the other shouting Brexit bad, Brexit bad. Which was how we got into this mess in the first place.

It is not hard to criticise when, as I write, we learn that David Davis lied about the 58 detailed Brexit impact assessments. Not only does it turn out that these don't exist, and the government has not even bothered to consider the impact of Brexit, we also learn from the Chancellor himself that the Cabinet has not even discussed Brexit as a group in order to determine what they hope to achieve. While it is unclear whether the Government will even survive until the new year, it is now very clear that the rest of the EU has little reason to engage with a UK government that has no idea what it wants.

But simply pointing the angry finger at the buffoons will not change minds. The trouble is that these existential clashes can easily become nothing more than a battle between the loudest and most entrenched voices when, in fact, the majority of the public do not live at the extreme ends of a controversy but in the befuddled middle.

If the Democrats in America think that it is enough to shout how bad Trump is then they risk their nation electing to have a second helping of him in 3 years' time. What the Democracts need to do is to set out a positive agenda for their nation, a vision that cannot be realised by a President Trump. They need to move on from his angry nihilistic agenda; they need to reassert values to believe in. In short they need to inspire hope in something better. The same is surely true for us here on the issue of Brexit. It is not enough for us to say Brexit is wrong or Gove and Johnson are liars, or our economy will be destroyed by Brexit, or Northern Ireland will be pushed back into the troubles, or the environment will suffer … More than ever we need the thing that was missing during the EU Referendum campaign: a powerful, calm and constructive narrative that explains the positive part that the EU has to play in the future of the UK, and the leadership role that we in the UK have to play within the EU. We need to explain to the widest public why our future is in Europe.

The wider public, so misinformed over so many years, still needs to learn and to understand how every day our EU membership is benefitting: the environment in the UK and further afield; the fight against climate change; the creation of our low carbon future; and the protection of biodiversity. We need to express and discuss how, in practical terms, the UK has contributed to the EU, how we have brought positive leadership and how we have influenced the debate and helped to create a sustainable future. We need to rehearse what continued membership will achieve in the years ahead.

It is to be hoped that we in GLD can help the broader Lib Dems to be a mouthpiece for our positive future in the EU. We are not Remoaners.

Christian Vassie , Editor of GLD Challenge magazine

From page 2 of Challenge Magazine Winter 2017